Why is your muscle not growing: the main reasons

A lack of progress is one of the most frustrating things you can experience when you’ve started a training plan. You’re doing all the right things, going to the gym and eating, but your gains aren’t coming. Maybe you’ve tried supplements. But if you’re going around in circles without getting anywhere, it’s time to consider what exactly is hindering your progress. 

In this post, we’ll review why your muscle isn’t growing. 

Before we jump into it, let’s review what you need for successful muscle growth. 

The process of muscle growth is called muscle hypertrophy. To grow muscle, we need two things: 

  • Plenty of amino acids – we get these from eating protein-rich foods 
  • Growth stimulus – you need to do resistance training to stimulate muscle growth, continually challenging the muscles 

In addition to these, some people may find an energy surplus useful. This can mean you may have to increase your caloric intake when trying to build muscle. 

To learn more about how muscle grows, check out our post. 

Now, let’s jump into the common reasons why you’re not experiencing fast muscle growth. 

You don’t have a training plan

Have you carefully planned your training sessions and the exercises you’ll do? If you’re new to the gym, starting can be challenging. You may be tempted to rely on fitness influencers and the routines they show in their reels. However, a haphazard routine can do more harm than good. 

If you’re a beginner, you’re better off sticking to beginner moves and getting a coach to help you with program planning. Workouts from magazines and fitness influencers may be created by people who have trained for a while, making it challenging for you to stick to them. 

In addition, hype workouts may only target one area of your body. You can benefit from working out your whole body, so it’s a good idea to ensure that your training plan is balanced. You should also ensure that you have a good combination of compound and isolation exercises and that you’re not simply focusing on exercises you like to do. 

You can find workouts suited to your level online. Alternatively, you can consult a coach or a personal trainer to help determine the best program for you. 

Doing too much cardio

Is cardio the worst thing you can do while trying to build muscle? Absolutely not. You can grow muscle while doing cardio. 

However, you can optimize how and when you do cardio to help you get the results you want. 

Cardio workouts
activate different pathways when compared to resistance training. Both types of training can help grow muscle mass. However, strength training will be more effective if you want efficient muscle growth. This may be especially true for people who can’t quickly put on muscle mass. 

If you do too much cardio, especially before a workout, chances are that you’re using up all your energy storage before the strength training. This may mean that you’re not able to lift as heavy or do as many sets to challenge your muscles. 

Make sure that you incorporate cardio into your routine. However, if your primary goal is muscle growth, you may be better off doing cardio after strength training or even on a different day. 

You’re not allowing enough recovery

The best way for muscle growth improvement is to let your muscles recover. During intense training, muscles get damaged, which can take days to recover. This can affect your performance, leading to less effective subsequent workouts. So, the best thing you can do for yourself is support your muscle recovery. 

This can look different for many people. You should ensure that you have regular rest days, where the body can take time to heal. You should also have days of active recovery when you do moderate-paced exercises like swimming or walking to promote blood flow and healing. 

Some people find that supplements like BCAAs can also be helpful for recovery. Whether or not you use them is up to you, but if you do, choose high-quality supplements. Maxler vegan 100% Golden BCAA is an easy way to get BCAAs in their optimal ratio.

You don’t mix things up

If you’ve been doing the same routine for a while, it may be time to change things up. First of all, changing things up can prevent boredom. This can motivate you to continue giving your training session all you have. 

In addition, you may need to challenge your muscles in new ways and work on different areas to support muscle growth and improvement. Incorporating new exercises can help you achieve this. 

Not eating right or enough

Have you spent time thinking about what you’re eating for muscle growth? Your nutrition can play a significant role in your progress. 

Don’t neglect the healthy veggies and fruits. Alongside carbohydrates, fats and carbs, your body requires plenty of micronutrients. These help support the many processes happening inside the cells. You must get sufficient minerals and vitamins for muscle growth.  

In addition, you absolutely must get sufficient carbohydrates. Carbohydrate is stored in our muscles in the form of glycogen. When you train in the gym, your muscles rely on the stored glycogen as a primary fuel source. This is true for high and moderate intensity movements. When glycogen is depleted, our performance is limited. 

If you’re not including carbohydrates in your meals or your post-recovery snacks, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Carbohydrates help replenish muscle glycogen, which can support recovery and help your muscles train for longer. You can even add carbohydrates to your workout if you’ve used up all your glycogen stores. 

In addition, you may find that having more carbohydrates can support muscle growth, as they help send growth signals. 

As a rule of thumb, a diet for muscle growth must have enough calories to support your activity level. If you’re not eating enough on a day-to-day, you won’t have the energy to work out and push your muscles enough. In addition, your muscles won’t have the resources they need to build themselves. Now, that’s not good for anyone, is it? 

You’re not eating enough protein

One of the easiest things to overlook is your protein consumption. When growing muscle mass, you need to consume sufficient protein. The amount will vary based on your training level, but a good starting point is around 1.6-2.0 grams of protein per kilo of weight. 

For someone who weighs 70 kilograms, that can work out anywhere between 112 grams of protein to 140 grams of protein per day. 

If you’re eating 1 cup of chopped chicken breast twice a day, you’re getting around 86 grams of protein. That is very much under your protein requirements, even if you’re aiming for the lower value of the range. 

Tracking your protein intake is a good idea when you’re trying to grow muscle. An app like MyFitnessPal can make it easy to log foods and calculate your protein intake over the course of the day. Alternatively, you can use a pen and paper method as well. 

If constantly munching on protein doesn’t appeal to you, don’t worry. You can help yourself reach your protein goals with protein supplements for muscle growth. Protein shakes offer an easy way to get anywhere from around 20 to 30 grams of protein in one go. In addition, they’re convenient and are liquid, so they don’t feel as heavy and can be taken with you. 

If you’re considering using a protein shake to increase your protein intake, here are some tips:

  • Choose a quality protein supplement from a respected brand
  • Aim to get at least 20 grams of protein per serving when choosing a protein powder 
  • Ensure that your protein powder aligns with your nutritional and caloric goals
  • Choose flavors you like and are likely to drink
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different brands

For more information about protein powders, check out this post. 

What are some high-protein foods for muscle growth? Check out our post to learn which foods are high in protein. 

You’re not drinking enough water

Our bodies are around 60% water. Our bodily functions depend on our bodies having sufficient water. When we work out, it is essential for us to stay hydrated. If you’re exercising in a dehydrated state, you may find yourself getting tired quicker. In addition, your body uses more resources, and your performance falls. As muscle growth for females and males depends on how much growth stimulus your muscles experience, dehydration can be detrimental to growth. 

Proper hydration can also support recovery after a training session, including restoring muscle strength. 

To help you keep hydrated, make sure that you start your training in a well-hydrated state. You can measure your weight before and after a training session to help you understand how much water you tend to lose. You must ensure to replenish that amount of water post-training. 

If you’re a salty sweater, adding electrolytes to your routine can benefit you. Maxler Electrolyte Powder can help you replenish key electrolytes in a fruity drink. 

You’re not getting enough sleep

If you think sleeping isn’t important for muscle growth, we’ve got news for you. Sleep is essential for helping your muscles recover after a workout, but that’s not the only benefit of sleep. 

When you don’t sleep enough, you start losing muscle mass. A study suggests that one night of sleep deprivation can decrease muscle protein synthesis by 18%. Additionally, it increases cortisol by 21% and decreases testosterone by 24%. These hormones play important roles in muscle growth. Cortisol lowers muscle growth, while testosterone boosts it. 

Therefore, getting sufficient rest is essential for your gains. If you’re finding it hard to fall asleep and get the recommended 7 hours of sleep a night, check out our post on resetting your sleep schedule

Muscle growth is a complex process that is reliant on the interplay between nutrition and working out. If you’re not seeing expected progress, there may be some factors at play. They can involve things like inadequate nutrition or insufficient rest. However, these factors are easy to address with a few lifestyle changes. We hope that this post helps you reach you goals of muscle growth. 

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